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Hiking:  Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park EntranceBryce is a rather unique park, most of the tourists never actually make it into the majority of the park. All of the park roads are above the true meat of the area, most visitors are treated to overlooks without truly getting a feel for the place. Don’t get me wrong, the overviews provide a beautiful view of a wonderful area. But, to get into the park you must take off on one of the many trails. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce is a magical place composed of a ridgeline overlooking a canyon filled with an amazing array of hoodoos, spires and beautiful colors. Millions of years of erosion has carved Bryce into something not seen anywhere else on Earth.

The geologic scenery is not the only draw to the park. At Bryce you have the chance to see a large variety of wildlife. If you pay attention you should easily spot mule deer. Make sure to drive the speed limit on park roads, it is not uncommon for vehicle/deer accidents to occur. Antelope have been
reintroduced into the park and can be seen as well. The larger predators such as mountain lions and bears live in the park but are not commonly spotted. There are many species of birds that frequent the area, if you’re lucky you may Rodents & birds beg for foodeven spot a California Condor. There are many rodents and birds that will beg for food from you at many places in the park. Please don’t contribute to the behavior of these animals and refrain from feeding any animal in the park.

The park was officially designated in 1928 and is named after Ebenezer Bryce an LDS pioneer who settled in the area in the 1800’s. Bryce is the second busiest Utah National Park, behind Zion National Park. In 2004 987,253 people visited the park.

It costs $20.00 per vehicle to enter the park, individual entrance fees are $10.00. If you are making a tour of the National Parks it may be in your best interest to opt for the yearly $50.00 parks pass. This pass allows you free access to every National Park in the United States.

The Shuttle SystemRecently Bryce has instituted a shuttle system. You can park in any number of shuttle pick up sites and free yourself of the parking and driving hassles. These shuttles take you to many of the park’s attractions and provide an easy way to get around.

Ranger ProgramBryce prides itself on its Ranger Program. There are many activities hosted by the rangers. These programs vary from geology lectures to stargazing sessions. Twice a month during the full moon the rangers host a moonlight hike amongst the hoodoos. Each campground also features evening campfire talks at the campfire circles. Young children will enjoy the Jr. Ranger program. Kids can complete an activity booklet and return it to be graded. Upon grading, the child will receive a Jr. Ranger badge and an achievement certificate.

If you don’t have much time to spend in the park, I’d recommend driving the park road the entire 18 miles to the end at Rainbow Point. Get out and take
in the views of Rainbow and Yovimpa points. This is the highest area in the park and can be a bit chilly at times. We picnicked here over Memorial Day
weekend, we were glad we had some sweatshirts in the truck.

After driving out to the end of the road you will find all the viewpoints are now on your right. It will be much easier to turn in and out by approaching them this way. There are a few viewpoints not to be missed, the Agua Canyon is the first of them. Here you can view the canyon at an aspect that allows the colors toNatural Bridge, Bryce Canyon truly shine. Natural Bridge overlook allows one to gaze at an arch formed by erosion and rainfall. Sunrise and Sunset Points are the most developed of the overlooks. You’ll find many boardwalks and trailheads to venture into the park. Many of the ranger programs are performed at these two viewpoints.

If you do have some time to spend in the park be sure and take off from one of the many trailheads. There are many hiking trails that lead below the rim of the plateau. The most popular and easiest of the trails is the Queens Garden Trail. Wall StreetThis trail takes off from Sunrise Point and is a 1.8 mile round trip. Navajo Loop is the second most popular trail, this trail begins at Sunset Point. The trail switchbacks to Wall Street, this closely resembles some of the slot canyons prevalent in Southern Utah. The Bristlecone Loop is accessed from Rainbow Point. The highlight of the hike is viewing an 1800 year old Bristlecone Pine, these are some the oldest living creatures on Earth.

There are many longer hikes including a number of backcountry campsites providing backpacking possibilities. The backcountry camping permits are available on a first come first served basis, they are available at the visitor center. The visitor center is fairly new and it’s a good idea to stop by regardless if you are hiking.

There are two campgrounds located inside the park. The North Campground North Campgroundfeatures four loops and 107 campsites. RVs and vehicles with generators are restricted to the A and B loops. The C and D loops are better suited to tent campers who don’t wish to hear a generator running next to their site. The North Campground is the only campground that accepts reservations. Campsites are $10.00 per night with a $7.00 reservation fee. All of the campsites feature picnic tables, and fire grates.

The Sunset Campground is first come first served. This campground has three loops and 101 campsites. There is also a group area available for reservation. The individual campsites are $10.00, the group site is $3.00 per person with a minimum of $30.00 per night. Generators and large RVs are restricted to the A loop, loops B and C have generator restrictions.

Red CanyonIf you’d like to camp outside of the park boundaries there are many private campgrounds located just outside of the park boundaries. Ruby’s is the oldest and most established of the many privately run operations located nearby. Red Canyon is also located nearby and features a very nice campground. This campground is nestled on the side of a paved five mile biking path.

If you are coming to Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is not to be missed.

Nearby Areas:

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Escalante State Park

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

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